Tribes in Calfornia and Nevada have been awarded a combined $10.4 million for environmental improvements to their lands from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Southern California tribes will receive $5.8 million for environmental programs, water infrastructure development, community education and capacity building, the EPA said in a statement, while Nevada tribes have been awarded $4.8 million.
“The federal government is committed to protecting human health and the environment in Indian Country,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, on October 15 at the agency’s 22nd Annual Regional Tribal Conference in Sacramento. “This funding will help conserve precious water resources, create jobs, and improve the quality of life on tribal lands.”
The money in both states will also go toward cleaning up open dumps, undertaking small construction projects, targeting community outreach, and improving drinking water infrastructure, plant operator training and technical assistance, the agency said. Southern California tribes will spend about $3.2 million on tribal environmental programs that are already under way, the EPA said, including drought mitigation and community education. The other $2.4 million will go toward “a wide variety of water quality projects, including watershed protection and restoration, water and energy efficiency, wastewater reclamation, and treatment systems,” the statement said.
Examples of such programs come from the Santa Ynez Chumash Tribe, which plans to develop a wetland program using GIS analysis, baseline rapid assessments, field surveys, and surface and groundwater monitoring, the EPA said, so as to inventory the size, extent, classification and condition of wetland areas on the reservation. Community members will be trained to help build the tribe’s capacity to monitor and protect wetlands on the reservation and within the watershed, the agency said.
In Nevada, the tribes will also use $2.5 million on existing tribal environmental programs such as dump cleanup, small construction projects, and community outreach and education. ??The other $2.3 million will go toward watershed protection and restoration, water and energy efficiency, wastewater reclamation and treatment systems, among other projects, the EPA said.
Among the Nevada grantees are the Shoshone Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley, which this year plans to install erosion control, re-vegetate eroding stream banks and install four alternate livestock watering systems or troughs which will reduce pollution caused by livestock in tribal waterways.
The Pacific Southwest Region of the EPA covers 148 tribal nations with half of Indian Country nationwide concentrated in three states, the agency said.